A book exposing the underhanded dealings of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in the Free State has won a major award for investigative journalism.
Journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State: Unraveling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture won him the 2020 Taco Kuiper award for investigative journalism.
He took home a cheque of R200,000.
Professor Anton Harber, convener of the judging panel, said Myburgh’s book had changed the way in which people viewed Magashule. The book portrays Magashule as a central mafia-like boss in a network of Free State government looting. Magashule is a former premier of the Free State.
After publication of the book in 2019, Magashule threatened to sue Myburgh and his publisher Penguin Random House for defamation, but is yet to do so.
The runner-up was Daily Maverick’s Pauli van Wyk for her series of investigative articles into the EFF’s links with VBS Mutual Bank.
Deon Wiggett’s podcast My Only Story, published on News24, and a series on police brutality by journalism startup Viewfinder’s Daneel Knoetze were the two other finalists for this year’s top prize.
In his keynote address, veteran journalist and Vrye Weekblad editor Max du Preez warned that many newspapers wouldn’t survive the Covid-19 crisis and that online advertising would continue to flow to social media.
He said it was “devastating” that journalism was suffering at a time like this, when good, truthful and probing reporting was required.
He urged journalists to keep society “open and informed” during the Covid-19 crisis.
Twenty-four entries were received for this year’s award. Harber noted that the entries were no longer dominated by newspapers, but by online publications from mainstream media and non-profit outfits like amaBhungane and GroundUp.